The Toronto Blue Jays and Jose Bautista’s representatives are currently engaged in “active contract discussions” according to a report from Jon Morosi.
Recent reports have indicated that Bautista is willing to entertain a one-year offer if it is above the 2016 qualifying offer rate of $17.2 million, but given the draft pick attached to his name, that number would still be difficult for many teams to stomach.
This remains a factor for the Blue Jays, too, who would forfeit the opportunity to receive a compensation pick should they re-sign Bautista.
Granted, such a move also has benefits on and off the field for the Blue Jays.
Bautista has been the face of the franchise since 2010, when he broke out with 54 home runs and established himself as one of the game’s most feared hitters. Even at 36, coming off a down year plagued by injuries and with his defence deteriorating further, Bautista is a rare presence at the heart of an MLB lineup.
Last season, Bautista appeared in just 116 games for the Blue Jays, his lowest total since 2012. His 22 home runs also represented his lowest total since that mammoth 2010 campaign, but with a .366 on-base percentage and .817 OPS, his bat was certainly not without value.
Re-upping with the fan favourite would also help to quiet certain corners of a fan base that has quickly grown restless by a lack of big-name additions. Such is understandable, given that Canadian baseball fans have been spoiled with back-to-back postseason trips after two-plus decades without. The loss of Edwin Encarnacion hasn’t helped that atmosphere, either, especially signing with the team that eliminated Toronto in the ALCS.
Even more so than the average free agent case, the dollars and cents involved in any Bautista negotiation will be particularly interesting.
More details to come on this story as it is updated and reported further.